Ottawa, February 14, 2017 – This morning, Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, Joe Friday, appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates (OGGO) to provide 16 recommendations to improve the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (the Act) currently under review.
The Act was created in 2007 to provide a confidential whistleblowing mechanism in the federal public sector to respond to cases of wrongdoing. The Act also provides Commissioner Friday with exclusive jurisdiction to investigate complaints of reprisal from current and former public servants because they blew the whistle or participated in an investigation.
“My recommendations can be grouped under three main goals,” stated Commissioner Friday in his opening remarks. “First, to facilitate and encourage the making of disclosures of wrongdoing, including clarifying and emphasizing confidentiality issues; secondly, to remove practical barriers for my Office to effectively carry out its investigative operations; and finally, and of essential importance, addressing the unreasonably heavy burden placed on the shoulders of reprisal complainants and strengthening the protection offered to them.”
Commissioner Friday proposed 16 recommendations to the Committee including the reversal of onus of proof. This means that the reprisal complainant, the party with the least resources and the least power, does not have to prove that a reprisal took place; rather, the employer has the onus to prove that what occurred was not reprisal.
“The Act creates a whistleblowing regime designed specifically for the federal public sector,” stated Commissioner Friday, “and I hope that the lens through which we examine the legislation in this review process is one to ensure that we are creating a system that responds to the needs of Canadians in having an effective and trustworthy public sector.”
As part of the review of the Act, OGGO will also consider statements from representatives from the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada, senior officers responsible for receiving internal disclosures of wrongdoing in the federal public sector, whistleblower advocates, the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal, unions and other stakeholders.
Please consult the Office website for the full list of recommendations.
For more information, contact:
Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada
613-946-2138 or 613-294-1678